Last.fm to start charging for listening to radio stations
…except if you live in one of the “fab-three” countries: The United States, United Kingdom or Germany. Last.fm crew made the startling announcement a couple of weeks ago, and recently revisited it in another blog post postponing the decision somewhat but their goal remains unchanged.
Now what really aggravates me is the fact that these three countries can already play full-length tracks on demand, in a similar fashion to Spotify. Now not only will they be able to keep doing that – absolutely for free, but the rest of the world will have to pay for simply accessing the radio feature, which played either tracks from a genre or your personally recommended tracks based on what you had listened to earlier. It doesn’t end there, they’re taking the opportunity to also increase their subscription pricing. A quick visit to the forum topic regarding the blog post reveals I am not the only one in anger over this sudden move. This is definitely carrying things in the wrong direction. I have always been a strong supporter of Last.fm and a subscriber for many months. I had high hopes of it being a strong contender in the music-on-demand race against Spotify in Sweden and was pleased when the on-demand feature was launched in the “fab-three” countries.
I won’t close my account like many in the forum post have threatened to do, and I completely understand Last.fm’s reasoning behind this – some things aren’t economically feasible, but that doesn’t mean shutting a large part of the community out is a good way to proceed. Especially not for a site like Last.fm which is mostly community-driven. That’s just not the way I remember the Last.fm spirit like when it first started as a grassroots project many years ago. (I’m sure the CBS acquisition a couple of years ago has played its part.) Like one user cleverly pointed out – if Last.fm is economically feasible in some countries, why not cut some of their features and let the ad revenue temporarily subsidize the other countries while they work on deals there?
Much has been said on the topic and I have a feeling the discussion is not going to end here, I just hope they pull themselves together before this all falls apart.